19th Century Technology/The Cigar Ships/Walter S. Winans Reconstruction

The Walter S. Winans Reconstruction

discovered the Publication industrielle des machines article114 about the Walter S. Winans in early 2009.   In addition to a detailed description of the boat, an associated plates volume115 included figures produced by or based on information from the builder, M. Nillus and Son.  This reconstruction is based primarily on that source, but includes some adjustments and additional speculation of details. 
      The figure below uses and is scaled to the dimensions published in the article.  Some of the details, such as the top of the smokestack are speculative.  A full compliment of nine propellers is shown, including the special submerged propeller aft (right in the figure) used for the cross-Channel voyage.  This was probably the only propeller configured for that voyage and it is likely that no configuration included all the others at one time.
Cutaway diagrams of Walter S per Nillus figures
    There are some small discrepancies in the dimensions both within the Publication industrielle article and figures and with other publications.  The article's nominal 21 meter length and 2.75 meter beam (~68.9 by 9.0 feet) is close to the dimensions mentioned elsewhere (72 x 9 feet).  The figures show slightly different proportions with the hull either narrower or longer by about 5%.  Some of this may be the result of the publication or reproduction processes or may just reflect round-off in the quoted numbers.  My scale drawings have been adjusted to the nominal dimensions.  My 3-D renderings have additional discrepancies resulting from my reconstruction process, but these aren't noticeable in the included images.
Construction details of the Walter S are apparent in the Publication industrielle figures.  There were 50 hull plates attached to a frame as depicted in the cartoon graphic below.  The plates were riveted to joining plates in three ways, as illustrated at right.  The joints in the central compartment used circumferential angle irons as stiffeners (a less likely T-iron is also illustrated).  The six bulkhead joints used a single angle iron in addition to the circumferential plate.  The joints in the fore and aft cabins and the longitudinal joints used only joiner plates.  As with the other cigar boats, the external rivet heads were likely flush with the hull surface.

Schematic illustration of joints

Cartoon view of hull frame
There was no keel.  Hull rigidity was achieved through the combination of the hull plates, the joining plates, the bulkheads, and the stiffener rings.  The six bulkheads formed seven compartments.  The structure was symmetrical fore and aft although internal mechanisms were not.

End Compartment

     This small compartment at each end of the hull, a little more than five feet long and less than four feet maximum diameter, contained the main propeller stuff box and bearing, similar to the Ross Winans mechanism described in Patent 58744.  The patent describes two propellers,  for vessels of large and moderate class.  Per the Publication industrielle article114, 115 the propeller mechanism was designed so the propeller could be replaced with a stationary conical plug that retained the hull spindle shape.  There was likely a small panel (not shown) in the bulkhead to provide access to the mechanism, similar to the access hatches for the Ross Winans described in The Engineer42.

End compartrment

Rudder Head Compartment

Rudder chamber

     The second compartment, less than six feet long and six feet maximum diameter, contained the rudder mechanism, again similar to but smaller than the Ross Winans'.  The rudder shaft was offset about six inches athwart, unlike that of the larger ship, which was curved to clear the centerline propeller shaft.   The upper part of the mechanism, the chain wheel, was enclosed in a box attached to a cutout in the bulkhead.  This allowed the chain to run freely from the helm to the rudder and permitted access to the chain wheel from the next compartment.  Here too there was probably a small panel or hatch in the bulkhead for maintenance access to the compartment.
     Unlike the Ross Winans and the Baltimore
steamer, both of which had single helms and linked steering, the Walter S rudders appear to be independently controlled by separate wheels at either end of the deck. 
    This section and the last had two hull panels each, one on top and one on the bottom. 


     The third compartment, nearly 13 feet long with an eight-foot maximum diameter, was a cabin, although its utility was severely limited by the centerline propeller shaft that ran its length.  The forward cabin had a stairway with scrolled railing and was probably intended for passengers.  Bearings and stuff boxes for the lower propellers were located under the cabin floor and likely accessible through removable panels.   The steering chain drive ran on the overhead into the bulkhead cutout to the rudder section.

Cartoon rendering of forward cabin

Cartoon rendering of aft cabin

     Rather than stairs, the aft cabin had a utilitarian ladder and was probably for the crew.  The large bulkheads of the cabins, nearest amidships, incorporated the thrust frame for the centerline propeller and supported the propeller gear train.  
     With the addition of four additional longitudinal joiner plates and a circumferential plate, the cabin sections were comprised of 12 hull panels each.

Engine Room
The Engine room
     The largest compartment was the engine room, located amidships and nearly 18 feet long with a maximum diameter of nine feet.  The two engines occupied the forward section of the compartment and the large boiler filled the aft section.  The engine crankshaft drove the power shaft via flexible couplers similar to those described for the Ross Winans in The Engineer and in Patent 55835.  The ladder from the deck landed on the starting platform just aft of the engines.  There was a step past dual feed water pumps down to the main deck stoker area in front of the boiler.  The figures show the main steam piping and some of the engine control mechanism but neither secondary piping nor gauges and control valves appear.  In addition to feed water lines attached to the pumps there may have been additional plumbing and valves for clearing the bilge in each of the compartments using one or both of these pumps.  The Engineer article42 mentions such a setup for the Ross Winans.  No coalbunkers are shown in the Publication industrielle figures.  These were probably located on either side of the boiler and on the curved sides of the engine room.  There may have been some accommodation for coal storage in the cabins as well.  
     The center section was enclosed by 18 hull plates.
     Like the Ross Winans, the Walter S superstructure and deck was set atop the spindle hull, leaving space under the deck fore and aft.  Although the shape of the superstructure was symmetrical, its layout reflects the interior asymmetry. 
     There was a large companionway for the passenger stairway forward that forced placement of the forward helm at the very end of the deck.  A more utilitarian engine room hatch was located just forward of amidships.  A similar hatch located just aft of the stack for access to the crew cabin left nearly three feet of space at the end of the deck for the aft helm.  The boiler super heater extended through the hull and above the deck just forward of the stack.  
Cartoon rendering of the deck area

     The Publication industrielle shows no anchors. The Winans invention anchor and mechanism (Patent 31276) used on the Ross Winans and shown in the gunboat drawings55, 56 were probably too large for the Walter S, especially with their attendant windlass.  The small boat probably used a conventional anchor stored on or beneath the deck.  The figures show neither fittings for mooring nor gangway access.  Considering the fairly convenient companionway and stairs of the passenger cabin, there was probably a gangway gate in the three-foot-high railed bulwark.
     The figures show some details of the mounting and connection of the superstructure parts together and with the hull, but others are not clear.  The boiler connection is especially unclear.  Likewise no scuppers or other accommodation for getting rid of deck wash are shown. 
     Both the Ross Winans and the Baltimore steamer had deadlights in the top of hull.  None are shown in the Publication industrielle figures, but there may have been some to provide some daylight to the interior.  I have speculatively placed deadlights in the hatches and companionway since the figures provide little of no detail for these fixtures.

This is a work-in-progress.  Check back soon for more.

(Source references are in the bibliography on the main cigar ships page.)

Comments and questions are welcome. E-mail me.

Site Map


Return to Cigar Ships


This page and its content © Copyright 2009 Michael & Karen Crisafulli. 
All rights reserved.
31 Jul 09